You’re Ordering Your Coffee Wrong, 3 Tips To Change That

Have you ordered a bad cup of coffee? We all have gone to a restaurant, ordered something that didn’t taste good and then never went back cc: Yelp reviews. But maybe it wasn’t the restaurant, maybe it was us.

See, we all have different taste buds and preferences. So, when you ask a server, “what do you recommend?” it will be based on their preferences – not yours.

We sat down with Al Liu, Vice President of Coffee at Colectivo Coffee, a Milwaukee-based coffee shop opening its second location in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood (2261 N. Milwaukee Ave.) on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017.

How to Order Coffee For Your Tastebuds:

Here are some tips to help you understand how you like your cup of coffee.

At Colectivo Coffee, they label their coffee with three indicators – RBA: Roast, Body, Acidity. We’re going to walk through all three to help you pick the right cup of coffee for you.


The Coffee Roast:

“I like medium roasts,” I tell the barista.

Honestly, I don’t even know what that means – I guess that I am a person who doesn’t know what she likes, so she stays in the middle.

I like to think of roasts as where you end up than where you start. See, roasts indicate a few things.

So, when you say you like a light roast, you want more caffeine and more acidity in your cup of coffee.


The Mint Matcha Latte is one of Colectivo’s most popular seasonal drink. Look for a “Cold Fashion” near New Year’s at the Logan Square location. It’s a cold brew coffee version of one of Milwaukee’s favorite cocktails.

The Coffee Body:

Next, we move on to the coffee’s body. This indicates the richness.

Al Liu compared it to milk, which ranges from Skim milk through Whole Milk. Skim milk is lighter and Whole milk is heavier and more filling.

When you sip a cup of coffee, let it sit on your tongue. How does it feel? Coffee with less body will be lighter (in terms of weight) and coffee with more body will be heavier.

At Colectivo, their Guatemalan coffee has less body, while their Brazilian coffee has a heavier body.

For coffee aficionados, acidity is described as “smooth” for lower acidity and “bright” for more acidic blends.

For me, I also noticed that this translated into the taste of the cup of coffee. The Brazilian coffee was more flavorful – I could pick up on nutty aromas. The Guatemalan coffee was lighter and when I took a sip of the Brazilian compared to the Guatemalan coffee, the Guatemala coffee was weaker to me. It didn’t taste as strong as the Brazilian blend.

The Coffee Acidity:

Interestingly enough, coffee acidity doesn’t indicate the pH balance. It’s a sensation that you feel on your tongue.

Take a sip of coffee and let it sit on your tongue. Once you’ve swallowed it, notice if there is a sensation on the back of your tongue. The stronger the sensation, the more acidic the cup of coffee.

In my coffee tasting at Colectivo, I noticed that I preferred coffee with less acidity.



Al Liu, Vice President of Coffee at Colectivo Coffee, with Amanda Elliott, Founder of Windy City Cosmo, for Colectivo’s Logan Square opening.



After sampling a few different blends, I realized that I like coffee with less acidity and a fuller body. So, while I came in asking for a medium roast, I should have ordered a darker roast.

Note that different coffee shops have different scales of roasts. So, a light roast coffee at Starbucks won’t be the same as a light roast coffee at Colectivo. Pay attention to the acidity and body of the blend, which will be a better guide.

Coffee Flavor:

The last detail to consider is flavor. Coffee’s flavor changes based on location. In Guatemala, for instance, there are three different coffee regions. In the highland regions of Guatemala, Huehuetenango coffee is grown, which has a fruity flavor.

One of the most popular blends for more than twenty years at Colectivo is the Blue Heeler, Sumatra blend.  Sumatra blends generally have a  heavier body and lower acidity, and they have spice which can range from roasted bell pepper to sweet tobacco, sometimes.

Pro Tip: If you do pick up a bag of coffee from Colectivo, they come as coffee beans. You can ask the barista to grind your coffee for you.

Colectivo Coffee Shop Opens in Logan Square:

Colectivo Coffee shop opens December 20, 2017, in Logan Square, its second location in Chicago, IL. The new cafe features an outdoor patio and year-round fire pit, operable floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and Colectivo’s signature unexpected design touches throughout, like vintage industrial mixing bowls transformed into indoor hanging planters.

Logan Square will offer a full menu of Session Roasted coffees, Colectivo Keg Co. house beers, Letterbox Fine Teas, made from scratch & delivered fresh daily Troubadour bakery items, all-day breakfast, and signature sandwiches made on slow-made bread.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.


Peet’s Coffee and Tea Tests Warm Breakfast in Chicago Coffee Shops

It’s happening. I swear you will want a scarf, gloves, and a warm breakfast.

Peet’s Coffee and Tea, a national chain and one that is growing bigger with the recent stake in Chicago-based, Intelligentsia, added to its menu. Peet’s Coffee and Tea launched an all-day warm breakfast menu exclusively in Chicago.


With hopes to add revenue and cater to the change in season, Peet’s Coffee and Tea is heating things up with seven warm breakfast items.

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Goddess and The Baker Will Make You Feel Like Aphrodite

It’s taken a minute (or over 2 years), but I found my favorite coffee shop in the city. In Chicago, it’s sad that chain coffee shops are more available than the independent retailers. When I need a cup of Joe in the morning, Dunkin Donuts is always closest to the train station, except at the Sheridan Redline stop, where Emerald City is attached to the train station and serves vegan pastries and your solid mocha.

I have sadly sipped and ditched too many overpriced coffees and specialty drinks in the city to get to this point. Just on Friday, I was at Stan’s, Donuts and Coffee which is amazing, especially the one near Northwestern downtown. Anywho, the barista made—I want to say was a chai tea latte. It took extra long to make and it was extra terrible. It didn’t even make it into the Uber with me. The Nutella banana doughnut, however, was on point.

There are a lot of cute and cozy spots, and hidden gems throughout the city such as The Coffee Studio in Andersonville (get something caramel there—so good). I will soon try Peet’s since they bought Intelligentsia.

Finding a place that has good light food and good coffee is not easy. For a restaurant, Yard House at New City in Lincoln Park has amazing coffee because they serve Lavazza. To me, nothing beats Lavazza coffee.

The winner for best coffee shop in Chicago is known for it’s rainbow cake. Goddess and The Baker (33 S Wabash Ave) is casual, convenient, and good, all of the things that make it the best coffee shop in Chicago.

Criteria for a Good Coffee Shop:

I am going to pause and define the ambiance and vibe that I was looking for in a coffee shop. If you are looking for an outlet, this is not the spot for you. See my Starbucks’ in Chicago guide for the freelancer.

Builds Community: This might be hipster, oh wait they are the ones with a laptop at every coffee shop, but I like that people gather and socialize at a coffee shop. It feels very much like a genuine meeting place over a bottle of wine or a piece of rainbow cake. Conversation at a coffee shop? Yes, please!

Health. What I like a lot about Goddess and The Baker is that they serve healthy food. Why does coffee always go with a doughnut or pastry? The latte already takes a toll on my caloric intake. It’s nice to pair  a latte with a salad or even guacamole and chips.

The food is really good. Both the small bites, the sandwiches, and the pastries. They serve dessert all day. The cake is moist and delicious from the vibrant colors to the light and sweet icing.


The drinks are really good. I appreciate their attention and selection of details. Pretty much, Goddess and The Baker only puts quality food and drinks on the menu. The coffee is served pour-over and drip.

Deals/Rewards: They have a happy hour for beverages and half of appetizers. There is also a loyalty program.

Variety: They serve non-alcoholic drinks and tea and coffee. It’s not so much about the variety, but it’s nice.

Location: Goddess and The Baker is close to public transportation and activities. It is a few blocks from State Street shopping to the west, and Millennium Park to the east.

Holiday Favorite:

For a limited time, Goddess and The Baker has the Bourbon Praline Latte.


Bourbon Praline Latte. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Food for Aphrodite:

Known as “a good food experience,” Goddess and The Baker  offers small bites and made-to-order sandwiches.

This weekend, I tried the Garden Goddess Wrap, one of the vegan options on the menu. I do eat meat, but sometimes I enjoy a vegetable-based meal. It was filled with red beets, carrots, avocado, and cucumbers. It’s complete with hummus on the sides and a light touch of Goddess dressing.


Vegan option, Garden Goddess Wrap. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Then, my friend and I also split a half-priced appetizer, the Double Dip with Kale Salad. The platter was massive.

There were artisanal bread and pita bread to dip in a cup or hummus or guacamole. Then, there was fresh kale salad lightly sprinkled with Goddess dressing. On the side were carrot sticks and celery sticks and two halves of red beets.


Goddess and The Baker Dinner. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Best Time to Go:

During lunch hour throughout the week, the most popular day is Monday starting at 11 am.

Later on in the week, on Wednesday and Thursday, it is more popular to go after 4 pm.

I love that when you do a Google search for restaurants, they provide a chart with the flow of traffic so you can know the popular times to go to restaurants and coffee shops.

Monday – Friday:  7 AM – 8 PM

Saturday and Sunday: 8 AM – 8 PM*

The Goddess Behind The Baker:

The Goddess brand was first introduced to Chicago in 2004 under the Goddess and The Grocer name by owner, Debra Sharpe. Since then, Sharpe expanded the line into Goddess and The Baker with two locations this year.

Her food and drinks have been served through a standalone grocery store, a coffee shop moment, and even catering for musicians like Jay-Z, according to Sharpe’s bio.

Runner Up Favorite Coffee Shop:

If you are going to a coffee shop for a meeting or to get work done, there is one coffee shop that is amazing.

It is further west. This space has mismatched chairs, lots of tables, real food and good coffee. The staff is helpful and sweet.

The runner-up for favorite coffee shop in Chicago is Filter Café (1373 N Milwaukee).

*The article was changed on Nov 25, 2015 to correct the times of business. Goddess and The Baker is open on Saturdays.